Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Requiem For Dreamland

Kevin Coney
that's Joe Sitt in image number 5 above.
from the villagevoice, an excerpt
Coney Island's Grand Past and Grim Future
Requiem for a dreamland, By Kevin Baker, published: May 25, 2010
Coney Island was the last place where you could feel the energy of 1970s New York, without the crime and decay.
They're getting very near the end now at Coney Island. They've been tearing pieces off the place for years, and soon the bulldozers will be back again, pushing over the last, weathered links to the past on Surf Avenue. Next to go this spring will be the old Bank of Coney Island, and the Shore Hotel, and the Grashorn Building, which goes all the way back to 1889. They'll take down what's left of Henderson's Music Hall, where they once put on shows the size of Broadway productions and where Harpo Marx made his stage debut.
A strip of faceless new buildings will replace the battered old ones, and the stands, with their small operators still holding on inside them, selling fast food and rides and games and T-shirts, will be replaced by . . . new stands selling fast food and rides and games and T-shirts. Then these new buildings will be torn down in turn, sometime in the next two or three or five or 10 years, and from their rubble will rise the new Coney Island, one that will be bigger and better and more exciting than it ever was before. Or so the story goes.
If it seems senseless, all this tearing up and building down, you have to understand that what's really going on at Coney is a scam as old as the place itself, one that's known in carny parlance as "a razzle." It's the same con New Yorkers have been subjected to all over the city for the past 10 years, a racket business and government run with almost breathtaking coordination against the rest of us. If it succeeds out in Coney Island, it will spell the demise, once and for all, of the city's most iconic neighborhood, and right now, things are looking as bleak as they have ever been. But then Coney has a long history of somehow evading all attempts by outsiders to make it into something it doesn't want to be.

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